The Indian government and telecommunications giant Videsh Sanchar
Nigam (VSNL) have drafted in Dewe Rogerson to manage international media
relations for a partial sell-off of the state-owned firm next month.
One of the country’s biggest companies, VSNL is the sole provider of
international telecommunications services in India and has been
earmarked for partial privatisation since 1994. At the time Hill and
Knowlton was appointed to handle external communications, but the
offering was delayed twice and the agency subsequently dropped.
The government and VSNL are now planning to issue around 18.5 million
new shares, including 3.8 million government shares. Dewe Rogerson’s
brief is to manage a marketing strategy and to drum up interest among
foreign investors through relations with the international financial
press. It is also helping to produce brochures and other literature
about the offering.
Local agency Perfect Relations will liaise with the Indian press.
Rosie Catherwood, Dewe Rogerson’s chief representative in Bombay,
explained that although the share issue was only open to foreign
investors, the local press had an important influence on international
opinion. ’The Indian press is very active and interested in the success
of foreign investment,’ she said.
A domestic share offer in VSNL is expected to be launched in June or
VSNL is just one of a number of state-owned businesses in which the
government plans to reduce its stake. In 1991 it set up the
Disinvestment Commission to advise on the disposal of shares in 40
firms, including oil refiner Indian Oil Corp.
Last year disinvestment raised pounds 62 million and the government has
set a target of pounds 865 million for 1996/97.